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Bridging Boundaries: Exploring the Confluence of Science and Art at the Lodha Genius Programme

The programme helped to foreground the depth of generative and productive interface between arts (across disciplines) /science

I think the Lodha Genius Programme at Ashoka University is significant for many reasons, not the least being that it makes it possible for young people across different spectrums of society to access the best that educators STEM have to offer.

One of the strengths for me was the Great Ideas Seminar. That functioned as both a supportive frame and an essential disruption to the rest of the programme. It was supportive and strengthening because it allowed the students to listen to and interact with professionals with an intimacy that is rare within the educational system. Equally important was its function as a contrast or break from the heterogeneity (in terms of methods and frames) that can very often mark STEM courses. Bringing in artists or entrepreneurs who work within the fields of science but come at it from very different points of view is essential if we are to break with an unfortunate tendency to keep the sciences and the arts separate. The programme helped to foreground the depth of generative and productive interface between arts (across disciplines) /science.

The spheres are deeply linked and always have been. At the core of both is curiosity and a sense of wonder. The latter, in particular, has a great value in our lives. Is there still room for wonder in an increasingly fractured and traumatised world? I believe there is, there has to be—we have to actively nurture and cultivate it because wonder is a bulwark against disenchantment, isolation and despair. It makes space for hope and the possibility of change. The wonder that art and science bring us is not the wonder of saccharine loveliness, this wonder has teeth1, it walks a fine line between the strange and the uncanny and it can change how we think about our place in the world.

Fundamental science much like art, can be deeply speculative and creative. So much of it is thinking through an idea, a thought experiment—often before it is possible to empirically test it. Asking young people who enter STEM to see how practitioners from other fields approach similar questions can only strengthen their methodologies. The frame may be scientific or artistic, but both address the nature and complexities of what it means to be human. Both are conduits to the most fundamental questions we ask as a species.

What is the nature of the universe?

What are the ways we map its resolution?

How do these questions and the processes of answering them transform the relationships between human and non-human?


  1. Daston Lorraine. “Wonder and the Ends of Inquiry” Examined Life Magazine. ↩︎

(Written by Rohini Devasher, Astronomer, Contemporary Artist, ICTS Bangalore and 2023 Faculty at Lodha Genius Programme, Ashoka University)

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